Hilker, Thomas

Courtesy Faculty

Email Address: 
Curriculum Vitae: 

PhD, 2008, Forestry, University of British Columbia
MS, 2002, Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics, HfT Stuttgart
BS, 2000, Forestry, University of Applied Sciences, Göttingen

Areas of Interest: 
  • Remote sensing of vegetation responses to global change, carbon and water cycling
  • Monitoring of land surface cover and disturbance
  • Estimating vegetation structure using airborne and terrestrial LiDAR
  • Data assimilation of plant productivity
  • Satellite remote sensing of tropical rainforests

Current Graduate Students 

  • Rong Fang (Ph.D student, co-advisor)
  • Paulo Murillo (MS, primary advisor)

Visiting Scholars

  • Yhasmin Mendes De Moura (INPE, Brazil)
  • Aramde Fetene (PhD student, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
  • Javier Pacheco Labrador (PhD student, Madrid, Spain)

Research Interests:

My research philosophy and guiding principles include efficient data handling and analysis, scientific rigor in its evaluation and effective communication of the results. My major research interest is in remote sensing of the carbon, water and energy balance of terrestrial ecosystems. I use remotely sensed observations from towers to satellites to obtain information about vegetation carbon uptake over land and relate this data to models of the carbon, water and energy cycle regionally and globally. A central aspect of my work has been to scale stand level observations to the landscape where it can be observed by satellites. This includes links between vegetation structure and function, which can be obtained for instance using multi-angle optical systems, but also from airborne and terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR) data.

I am also interested in studying changes in vegetation and vegetation cover over time using time series of satellite data. This research includes mapping of land cover and land use change and ecosystem disturbance as well as degradation of vegetation over time.

My research is very much interdisciplinary in that it builds on mechanistic approaches based on plant physiology, ecosystem and atmospheric science and I encourage collaborations across related earth science fields.


Prospective Graduate Students: 
If you are interested in the area of my research or bring new ideas of research you would be interested in pursuing, please contact me directly.

Recent Publications: 

Find a link of my publications here


Editorial Board

Remote Sensing of Environment